Manduk Village


I guess the village is about 200 people but I’m not really sure. Most are farmers but the crops are varied; red and white rice alternated every six months (every crop), or cloves sold to cigarette companies, and coffee, they roast it here too. There is also a lot of cacao but there is a fruit fly problem killing more than half of the fruit on most of the trees. These are the major ones that I know of, but they also grow other spices like nutmeg, shallots seem common, today I saw zucchini, cauliflower, lettuce, green beans, chili and many different leafy greens, but I assume these are for local consumption not for export. For fruits I saw Pineapples, papayas, dragon fruits, avocados, bananas and coconuts. I’m sure they grow much more but this is what I’ve seen. It seems like they use most of what grows naturally, not just the very common banana leaf for a plate, which is great, but many leaves can be used to heal and roots, fruits, and flowers. They have learned through the generations what can and can’t be used. I think if you get cancer or some can’t be killed without radiation disease, this is the place to come to get better naturally, or at least to die in paradise.

Despite their herbal cures and healthy variety of food, many still believe that if they get sick it is because of the spirits or bad karma. We went by a house and the girl inside was sick. Obviously I am no doctor and Ary, who I was with, was not either, but all the same Ary tried to comfort her and talked to her, she tried to find out the cause. It seemed like she needed to be asked what she had eaten or been exposed to, to follow a normal line of deductive reasoning that you would ask a child, but it was uncommon here, the girl wanted to see a spiritual healer. In the modern world I guess we are pickier eaters or don’t live directly off the land.

There is a sort of village healer, and old woman about 60, she has a big smile and seems chipper and in good health. She offered me snacks which I liked and remembered me when she saw me walk past her house in the woods. She would know what plants to use to heal different sicknesses and the old natural remedies forgotten in our modern world, not scientifically tested but tested through time and many generations. I would imagine that sometimes she probably heals with a placebo effect, her patients believing in her powers, but I also believe she would know secrets that science either doesn’t know yet or has forgotten.

The village has two chiefs. One is from the government and the other is more related to the church or you could say tribal. The village by the way is basically all the people in the town. The church and the village seem to be one. It turns out I’m staying at the village chiefs house. He seemed a powerful fella and Ary said he was a bit feared and respected, but I just thought he was a rich man, as he owns the restaurant where I stay, a guest house somewhere, a coffee plantation and a rice plantation. They are not huge but they bring in money for sure. Now that I know he is the chief I see he is a bit more than just a rich guy, I see that he holds himself as a man of wisdom and power. He is nice, friendly and incredibly relaxed, but I don’t know if he doesn’t speak English or just doesn’t say much to me. There are often people here talking to him and he always seems very important. His attitude fits his position. The positions of chief, both of them, change every 5 years. The government one is not so important here as things don’t go through the law as much. If there is a dispute they don’t usually go to the law and get witnesses, they go to the village chief and talk it out and a solution is decided upon.

Every new or full moon there is a three day ceremony. Last night was the last night of the full moon ceremony, so he and the healer woman were up until 4 am. I don’t know what the ceremony consisted of but I assume it was like the one I attended the day before: music, praying, dancing and offerings to the gods, but it would be on a smaller scale. The ceremony that I witnessed was four villages combined and the day that most people go. Last night was a private church for this village alone, Munduk. You would probably need to be very dedicated or in need of some serious good luck to be out all night.

The town has many guest houses to make money. It is a bit sad because it equals people coming in and taking pictures of their culture but having very little to do with it. It is also very expensive to tour here. As far as Bali goes there isn’t much culture left that has not been altered by the tourist trade. Today I walked through different farms in the town. I saw where they make fertilizer, and also a small garden next to it . There was a guy who lived there with a wasp tattooed on his forehead. He was a friend of Ary’s so we stopped and talked to him. He made us coffee and cut some cacao for me to eat. It is orange and oval shaped, gourd-like but not perfectly oval, it’s ribbed. The part you could eat was a white coating around the bean, kind of like pith around the beans, very sweet full flavored and a little citrusy and rich. It was really delicious until you bit into the incredibly bitter seed, or bean, which is what makes the chocolate. We met another guy who gave me some red rice seeds to plant at home. There are lots of workers in the village who go from crop to crop as harvesters. I guess the village chief pays more than others, he does 1/3 of profits for red rice which is normal, and 2/3 for white which I think is a bit high for here. The workers usually take product as pay rather than money.

Our mission for the day was to go to his coffee plantation. We went past a sixty-or-so-foot waterfall that I had seen the day before, and met a woman and her son, and a dog named Bobo with his two very amusing puppies. They invited us in for bananas, coffee and to talk. We then met the husband and their younger daughter who was very cute. I watched the dogs and chickens mostly, as I had no idea what they were talking about in Bahasa, then Ary said it was time to go back to the house. We were at the coffee plantation and I didn’t even realize it. So the guy offered to take us into the property further to see more. I’m sure this made Ary happy too, but I think she waits till things are offered, and isn’t pushy, so my innocent unawareness was a bit helpful.

I didn’t see too many trees, because I don’t think it was a very big place. Maybe plantation just referred to the fact that there was a land owner and someone who worked the property and lived on it. It was on a many levels, built on the side of the steep hill just like the rice fields and everything else, in a stair step pattern. We past some workers who offered…more coffee. No thanks, if I had had the three cups offered so far, I would be so jittery, but I had declined them all because I drank one at the house already and caffeine hits me hard.

The man showed us how he was splicing in a new strain from a different area. It was organic as was most everything here. He cut off a branch, then cut the stem diagonally about an inch, then the same to a small piece of new stem, connected them, cut sides touching, and finally wrapped them in a thin strip of plastic. Then he put a small bag over the top, though I’m not sure why, maybe to keep in moisture, and make it humid. Another way he did it was to cut the new stem diagonally on the left and right of one side. Then he just cut a slit down the still growing stem and slid the new into the old, then again the plastic bandage and the bag over the top. The coffee tree starts to yield at about year three and is about 4 ft tall. Its branches grow wide and the new leaves are really shiny green or reddish green. Because of their shininess my first thought was it might be some versions of poison oak. You can only harvest the coffee beans once a year but it is still a profitable business and Indonesia produces tons of it. Why do you think we nicknamed coffee Java?

Then we walked back home. It’s a slow, quiet, peaceful walk with Ary. The forest around us is lush and green and dotted with colorful flowers. We pass houses and can look inside of them and see people now and then. And step over a steam now and again too. When we see people they are happy to see me, nod hello and continue on with what they are doing.


too much

I have had it

i’m overwhelmed with life

there are always challenges, I know, but

I need some easy time

boring is not easy (just so you know)

easy is when you understand your challenges

when you feel good about your achievement


are content with the strife

an even keel to difficult

Here i feel lost

too many competitive toughs

everyone trying to get their best on someone else instead

of doing their best.

Here I enjoy a relaxing day by myself

a whiskey-coke and a movie

i am worried about where I live and work

i’m worried about where i sleep

another is shitting but its not me

it’s just my bed

I will have to re-search

re-figure it out


Cheap Saki!


Cheap saki

I stare at you

a tiny amount of poison still inside

laughing at me

my stomach quivers

my brain hurts

“The Finest Sake:


you are fine

a fine barf aid

I resolve

I will drink you

I will not let you win

I will force you down my aching stomach

to show it who is boss

and your bottle will be displayed on a mantle

encouraging me always to fight you again

you whisper to me:

I wasn’t so bad…

warm me up I’m so cold

you love rice…

watch Yojimbo and put me in a small ceramic cup

are you samurai Jon?

you are a deceitful trickster

you will be shogun

I will be pawn



lifeconstantly I redefine my thoughts on how old I am

always youthful, fun, alive, carefree

but trapped by the things in life I have yet to do

and feeling time pulling at me

saddened by the passing of the years

my bones ache

I am un-amused by childish actions

Grow up! I think, frowning in disapproval

and yet

I want nothing more than fun and free time

to do nothing for an entire day

to act the child and

to forget

I want a career

I want to finish school

but will school teach me what I want to know…

my mortality comes into question

it is just life, I say, live it and have fun

as if there will be more after this one

wait, this is it

it’s all I have so far as I know

when I die there is no more

I need to make the most of my time

I’m old now, a third of the way through my life

maybe half

maybe I’ll die tomorrow

time is fleeting

then I see how seriously others can take this world

I want nothing of thei graveness

I still grasp at the innocence of childhood

the beauty in the unknowing

to hell with it

today I will burn a bible and watch Carl Sagan

I will learn Spanish

I will call in sick from work

I will “stay and play” and buy gumballs, and watch them spiral down a clear slide

I will drink bottles of wine and read Tortilla Flat by lamp light

vagabond for a day

making memories for fear than I will need them when I’m older



for weekly writing challenge

Goodbye Paradise


I had it all. A beautiful girlfriend, a high paying job, warm days and fresh fruit outside my door. I was special, unique, always a celebrity. But I was put to hard choices and I had to realize that my relationship was not working and would not. My girlfriend was a beautiful Vietnamese girl, from a rich family, and sadly, to them I did not measure up. But this was not the real problem, the problem was the challenges a life with her would bring. Always we would be fighting against racism, people judgments and stares. Continuous would be our search for a means of communication that would make life a little easier. Always our cultural differences butting heads, our core values, the way we perceive the world and how it manipulates us respectively. Me hating power and what is done with it, her looking for it. A future with her would be a never ending array of struggles and I made a decision that I was not up for them.

I said goodbye to Vietnam, and to the idea that love can conquer all, and most importantly to Thúy. Goodbye my love. May what you are looking for come more easily to you.

The Forest

You are the strength I find from supernatural powers.

My grandmother waving in the breeze,

aged and wise.

You are the green maze of happiness.

You are an ocean of noises. Life sneaking by.

You who can only be tamed by the cries

of and owl. Or the lonely eyes of camper

staring out through the flames of the fire.

You weep and creak but know nothing of pain.

I live and die in but the blink of your eye.

You’re the duct tape to my boots, the calm in the


Run away with me?

Let’s be brethren or lovers.

Let’s hitchhike to the next place and eat with the locals.

Why don’t we disappear

into the land that time forgot,

a jungle of dinosaurs or old Inca tribesmen.

Let me listen to your silence

when I’m in need

of the peace that you bring me

and the acceptance you are.

The Problem with Sensationalizing the Military


More than just in the media, movies and on social networks, we see the sensationalizing of the US military on the streets too. Whether it be getting out of a ticket for having a military ID, discounts in restaurants, or a general requirement for care and respect of those who serve. What would happen if you openly talked of your dislike of the US military in the presence of a solider, current or retired? Would you be met with violence? Is it necessary to show respect for the members of an organization when you do not believe in the organization’s cause or in the way it reflects on you as a citizen of the country that it claims to represent? I think that most of you reading this will say yes, even if you don’t want to. It is a requirement to show respect, and you will be looked down on or threatened if you openly bash it.

We must look at a few key issues in order to see the problem with sensationalizing the military. We must question the need for a strong military in general, and we must look at nationalism as a whole and the differences between the people of the different countries of the world. We must ask if glorifying the military also glorifies violence and killing, as it is not only involved in these things regularly but also uses them as a means to achieve many of its tasks. Is this the role model we want for our kids or the image we want to project to the rest of the world? We must look at who the military is really protecting and to what ends it will bring us. And we must look at the effect it has on our citizens who join the military. As stated early there is a huge respect for vets and currently employed men and women, we must ask if they are accountable for their actions, if they come out healthier in mind and body, and if failing to judge them fairly and accurately will further the system and put more men and women in harm’s way.

So let us begin by questioning the military as a whole and we can personally decide where the servants fit it. Servants being used liberally here as those who serve in the military, those who refuse to questions it, those who are angered by disrespect to it, and in general those whose mindset allows it to continue functioning in the way that it does now. So we must ask ourselves why we have a military, is it because we have to defend ourselves from a ground or sea invasion? Is it also because the people of our nation, The United States of America, are actually so different from the other peoples of the world? As we travel the world and meet others from different countries, societies and walks of life, there are very few who can say that their lives are any less important than our own. When we meet people of other nations we find good and bad people, just as the same exists in our own country. Some people will go out of their way to help us and be friendly to us, and others seem to emit a hatred for us and others around them for no particular reason. In many cultures there are differences and we may not like the social norms of politeness or etiquette but rarely can these be considered differences that make them deserve to die. In others countries there are mothers just like in our own, and children and old people. People all around the world bleed the same blood and cry the same tears when bombs are dropped on them. Sadly this is what the military does, it is inherent in the system, it kills people, that is its major function and what it devotes the majority of its training to.

Religion seems to be the grey area here, the place where some may question who deserves to die and who does not, for the beliefs of our mortality and what lies beyond it are frightening questions. In some religions the rights of women, and humans in general, or beliefs on what pleases God may differ but in the end we cannot expect others to believe what we believe, it is their freedom to be different. In the end we all share a lack of proof of what comes after life so it seems funny to fight merely for beliefs that cannot be proven till after death. In all religions we look up and ask for help, certainly the answer is not to give others reasons to need help as well. Maybe when we get so frustrated with the beliefs of others we can remember that at one time we were all born with the same innocent naivety, and unfilled set of beliefs. In the end we are all searching for the same knowing of unanswerable questions, and the same feeling of connectedness and lack of being alone in our hearts. We are all looking for answers to the questions of the depth of our person, which may or may not go much further than death. The conclusions we come to about our beliefs may differ but they are still a part of the same search, in the major details the religions of the world are not so different from each other, and the differences are not grounds for hurting other human beings to prove they are wrong or we are right.

When we really get to know others in the world, then we see more similarities than differences. If we look for enemies rather than friends we can find them too, for all over the world there are people looking for a fight, but there exists many more who are just looking for happiness in the world. They are looking for a family and want to make enough money to support one, they are looking to laugh, and to cry. They, like you and me, want someone to hug and kiss and lay with. They, like you and me, want someone to make them feel better when disaster strikes in their lives, someone to talk with and discuss ideas, and someone to sit quietly next to in times of silence. These people are not our enemies but tragically they will be the ones who pay the largest price in wars, they will be the victims, these people just like you and me. So is there a need for a military machine, a large scale killing machine? The answer is not so easy. If we look at the people we go to war with, and the victims of war, then no, we do not need to be encouraging, participating, flag waving our troops on their march into battle.

The distinction of the peoples of the world is called Nationalism and is a large debate. It is doubtful that more could be said about it than has been already said. We are one nation among roughly 200 others, and certainly the more our country stands together and works together the more we can prosper and defend ourselves if need be, but there must be a limit to how important it is to unite as a nation rather than a world. If we create too many barriers from the rest of the world we may find that we are cutting ourselves off from more benefits than we are protecting ourselves, and that we are creating enemies rather than friends. The benefits may lie in ideas, beliefs, culture and technology from other parts of the world. In the differences of others we may find the answers to the things missing from our lives. In accepting and viewing other cultures with an open mind we may see new ways to live that bring us happier lives, or new systems of government that provide a healthier, more sustainable life. It is an undeniable result that as we cling to nationalism, and push away nations other than our own, we become more close minded and naive. Thus our severely honesty lacking media, our low number of passport owning citizens, poor standing as world travelers, and  the large number of ongoing military conflicts we are involved in.

There are a countless number of countries in present and recent history where our military has ground troops killing people, drones bombing, and spy networks collecting information, most all of which we are unaware of, or mildly aware of and seem to prefer it this way. We really must ask ourselves how this helps us, and why do we need it? Our government runs itself for the benefits of the rich to get richer, and in some cases, though rare, the poor to get richer. We are a capitalist society and money is our major focus. The military is the gun used to keep the money coming in. Wars are extremely profitable, and if we question our country and view its history we see that the military and the fighting they do is for monetary gain, not for defending our citizens. There is an old saying that the best defense is a strong offense, but this seems clearly untrue in many of the wars we are involved in, stuck in. We are creating enemies, not winning football games. We must make this more personal for it is people who are paying the price. In all of the 200 other nations can we really say that we are better than any of the others? No, but we can try to unite and make ours stronger. The problem is that the military may not actually be making us stronger. It may be closing us off from the benefits of good relations with the other countries of the world and it does this under a guise that it is for our good, when really it is all economics, most of which affects us on a very low level, but they make the wealthy of the world super wealthy. These people have no use for nationalism in their own live, they see it only as an idealism use to enslave us and make them more money. Watching the money, spent and made, is key to seeing who benefits and who loses in wars, and is probably the common people, of our country or any other. The money made in wars is unjustifiable cause for the harm they creates.

Another reason the military is considered so important and deserving of respect is that they are considers to be our protectors from those that would hurt us. The last invasion on the US was nearly 70 years ago when the Japanese bombed Pearl harbor, before that it was the Mexican war in the 1840’s and then all the way back to the civil war where it was actually us invading ourselves. Potential large scale war on US soil seems to be a driving force in believing we need a large military but this fear is ungrounded. The events of the September 11th invasions by private individuals cannot be left out, but we must consider how much we contributed to this attack, as we, our military, had already been involved in the life of many Arabic cultures, and our thirst for oil seems unquenchable. The individuals who bombed us were created by us, they were retaliating for the tens of years of destruction we caused in their lives. Through government meddling and oil searching we have contributed to many fatherless families and the death and hardship of so many. This information is well known at this point and the idea that America is hated by many for the death and misfortune we have caused in other culture’s lives is unconcealed. Those that wish to attack us harbor revenge, not greed. Our government and military created them.

The rest of the world is violent for sure, but we are as well, we may even top the chart on violence. Many countries would attack the US if they had the chance, possibly even some do attempt to attack our home, but our defense system has kept them out. It is unknown how many countries or private citizens would come here to attack us because they are too afraid to do so. It seems that the only real way to attack the United States is through private convictions, and the willingness to kill yourself in the progress. It is unreasonable to believe that it is sustainable to keep making the world too afraid to attack, this can only last for so long, and as more and more enemies are created around the world the job will become more and more difficult and our military will continue to grow. As of right now we are the second largest military in the world, second only to china which has a twenty-two times larger population than us, how much larger do we want it to be? What percentage of our citizens do we want to me military servants.

Another problem with sensationalizing the military is that it promotes violence. If we hold violent acts and perpetrators of violence as monuments and heroes, we are clearly encouraging more of them. Children look to heroes as idols for what they want to become in life, even adults can be swayed by this idolization. As we cheer for military success around the world, we fail to encouraging ourselves to handle our problems with conversation and diplomacy. The more we clap our hands for those who use guns to solve problems the more we consider it right to use violence in our homes and personal lives. Child and domestic abuse in our culture can be linked to this, as can the violence we see on the streets of our home country, which is more than in many countries around the world. Most people agree that we should teach children to handle their problems without violence, beating up someone on the playground because you don’t get along, or because they have something that you want, is not the answer. Children should be taught to talk out their problems and come to peaceful solutions, to accept each other’s differences and to get along, but the military clearly does not act in this way or hold these as organizational values, and yet we hold them is such high esteem. We must ask why people who change the world without violence get less coverage, in the media and in conversation, than those who take what they want at the expense of others. When lives are taken for lower oil prices and it is accepted by the nation, why should we not take what we want from our neighbors by force. When the media and our citizens glorify revenge, killing, and success, even at the cost of human lives, American or foreign, we set violence as an acceptable courses of action, rather than a last resorts. If we don’t stop to question our military and to empathize with those hurt by it, we are not role models for our children or peers. The military is not a role model and should not be idolized. It should be questioned openly, without fear of an angry recourse.

The US military system seems to be put in a different category from those that hold its guns and die for it. It is sometimes ok speak badly of the military but not those who willingly volunteer to fight for its cause, and fight is very literal here, life and death in many situations. The problem with doing this is that it seeks to take all accountability away from the people in the military and possibility even credibility. Credibility because how can we think someone is credibly if they don’t make their own decision, if they follow orders even in the most character defining situations like taking a life. The two categories of military and soldier are certainly different but they achieve the same goals, one as master one as servant. In order to truly question the military we must also question those who carry out its ends. So as not to offend those with a deep respect for military men and women, and those in the military, that there is a difference between those who follow orders and those who call the shots, but why would anyone follow an order to take a life.

From the very start when a person decides to sign up for the Army, Navy or Marines, they may not know what exactly to expect. The recruiter may have told fantastic stories and built and unrepresentative images of what military life will be like, but certainly there is an understanding that you may kill other human beings, and may be killed. No one can hide this, it’s at the heart of the military. There may even be a want to go out and use guns and drive tanks or other powerful killing machines. It also seems reasonable to do serious research before you sign your life over to an organization for 3-5 years. Much of the time those joining are young and impressionable, though legally considered old enough. Claiming ignorance when joining the military can only be accepted to a certain point. At the age required to join the military people are old enough to be responsible for their actions, but without proper parenting and role models they may be naive to how much the military will alter the course of their life.

The military has an amazing training program, they know what they are doing. They tear you down and rebuild you into what they want, into a soldier that follows orders. They are extremely successful at this. That is why our military is so good. But the outcomes are not as great as they sound. People leave the military with horror stories and psychological disorders. They leave with lifelong injuries and sometimes they leave in a body bag. Sometimes our government doesn’t even take care of these people or their families when they come home broken in some way. When they return home they are different in mind and body. There is a chance they will have seen things that cannot be erased from their memory no matter how much it is desired. They may find themselves more prone to violence and more emotionally closed up. There are certainly skills learned in the military and a possibility of a better future for some, but there is also the possibility of negative outcomes on the soldier’s life. We must really ask if the positives outweigh the negatives, we must bring it close to the heart. Would you want your son or daughter in the military, would you want your husband or wife, your father or mother, would you want yourself in the military, holding a gun, defending your life for nationalism, in another country defending our country, to continue driving a machine that more than likely will only benefit a few rich people who don’t need the help in the first place?

Oxford dictionary defines sensationalism as:  “the use of exciting or shocking stories or language at the expense of accuracy, in order to provoke public interest or excitement.” Is this what happens with our military? Yes it is. It is what happens when we believe that we are protecting ourselves from outside threats while making a handful of new threats for every one defended, and failing to view the victims of wars as more similar to us than different. It is what happens when we treat our country and the citizens of it as better than any of the other human beings around the world. It is sensationalism when we glorify the use of violence to solve problems, and it does teach others around us, especially children, that this is an acceptable way to act. We are sensationalizing the military when we idolize those who keep it running, working and killing, when we congratulate their loss of humanity and loss of self, rather than morn each person’s personal or mental loses and alterations by the military complex. These are all proofs that we are sensationalizing the military and that it has a negative impact on our loved ones, countrymen and fellow human beings. Lastly it is sensationalism when we fail to see the government’s true goals with the military, who they hurt and who they help, and who is behind the strings profiting from the wars we die in.